Man, something is going on in the NBA right now. There’s more trash talk than I can remember, and it’s led to a handful of scuffles over the last week. It might be the fast-approaching trade deadline putting players on edge, but watching this drama on and off the court has been exciting. It can be frustrating when you roster those players in DFS, but that’s the volatility when you gamble. With that in mind, let’s kick things off with a first-time All-Star who’s earned the right to trash talk.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC vs. HOU ($47)
There haven’t been many better matchups over the last few years than guards facing the Rockets. They surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing PGs last year and are doing the same thing again this year. That’s really scary against this first-time All-Star, with Gilgeous-Alexander averaging over 50 Yahoo points per game. SGA also comes into this matchup scoring at least 48 Y! points in six straight outings, dropping at least 39 fantasy points in five consecutive matchups with the Rockets.
Spencer DinwiddieDAL at GS ($27)
Dinwiddie will be chalky, but he needs to be used, with Luka Doncic (heel) expected to miss this game. This guard steps into the Luka role whenever the Slovenian is out, generating a 36 percent usage rate with Doncic and Christian Wood off the floor. Dinwiddie is also averaging 1.3 Y! points per minute in those circumstances, scoring 56 and 42 Yahoo points in the last two games Doncic has missed. He also averaged nearly 40 fantasy points per game when Luka was out last year, and we’re not worried about him facing a 26th-ranked Warriors defense, either.
Guard to Avoid
Killian Hayes, DET vs. PHX ($22)
Hayes was amid a breakout season when Cade Cunningham went down earlier in the season, but an injury to Hayes has derailed that hot start. It’s actually moved Jaden Ivey into that role, with Hayes taking over as the backup point guard. That relegation has led to Hayes scoring 31 or fewer fantasy points in eight of his last nine games, failing to crack 18 Yahoo points in four of those. That’s a frightening floor from a $22 player, and we don’t expect it to get any better against a Top-10 Phoenix defense.
Jamal Murray ($30) is averaging 41 Yahoo points per game across his last 12 outings and should annihilate a 22nd-ranked Atlanta defense.
Tim Hardaway Jr, DAL at GS ($18)
With Wood and Doncic missing this game, Hardaway could be in line for 35-40 minutes and 15-20 shots. That’s all he needs to be successful, posting a 26 percent usage rate with both of those guys off the floor this year. In the final five games that Doncic missed last year, THJ averaged over 35 fantasy points per game. He’s also got a 27-point average in the last three games Luka has sat this year, and it’s hard to understand why he remains below $20 against one of the worst defenses in the NBA.
Josh HartPOR at CHI ($17)
Hart has had some duds recently, but he shouldn’t be this cheap. The stat-stuffing forward is still averaging over 27 Yahoo points per game this season, scoring at least 34 Yahoo points in three of his last six outings. That’s a ridiculous total from a $17 player, but we expect this guy to be the primary rebounder with Jusuf Nurkic (calf) out for the next week. Facing Chicago should keep Hart rolling, with the Bulls ranked 17th in total defense while allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing forwards.
Jabari Smith Jr ($19) could be a focal point of Houston’s offense with Jalen Green, Jae’Sean Tate, Eric Gordon and Kevin Porter Jr all possibly missing this game.
Forward to Avoid
Chris Middleton, MIL vs. MIA ($21)
Middleton is too good of a player to be sitting at $21, but we can’t use him until we know this minutes restriction is lifted. Money Middleton hasn’t played more than 20 minutes in any of the six games since his return, scoring fewer than 30 Yahoo points in all of them. No player’s price should ever be above their minute total unless they’re a superstar, and there’s no chance that Mid plays more than 20-25 minutes until the All-Star break. A matchup with Miami makes Middleton even scarier, with the Heat ranked second in points allowed and third in defensive efficiency.
Deandre AytonPHX at DET ($28)
It’s strange to see Ayton below $30. This guy has developed into the focal point of the Suns’ offense with Devin Booker out, scoring at least 31 fantasy points in six straight games. Ayton is also averaging 39.7 Yahoo points per game in that span, seeing a boost in shot attempts and usage. Getting 40 fantasy points from a sub-$30 player is incredible, and it seems more likely in this matchup. The Pistons rank 29th in both points allowed and defensive efficiency while surrendering the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing centers. In their one matchup earlier this season, DA dropped 48 Y! points in one of his best games of the year.
Drew EubanksPOR at CHI ($11)
Eubanks had a dud on Friday night, but we’re returning to the well. This guy started 31 games for Jusuf Nurkic last season, averaging 28 Yahoo points per game across 28 minutes a night. That’s all you can ask for from an $11 player, and we’re willing to overlook that stinker on Friday because the big man was in foul trouble. He had 33 fantasy points in the game where Nurk got injured a few days ago, and a line like that would make Eubanks the best value on the board. It’s not like Chicago is scary, with Portland projected for 114 points in this game.
Isaiah Hartenstein ($11) has seen a boost in production with Mitchell Robinson out, averaging 25 Y! points per game across his last five fixtures.
Center to avoid
Onyeka OkongwuATL at DEN ($16)
We love Okongwu as a player, but his role is too small with Clint Capela healthy. That’s forced Big O into a bench role, playing 20 or fewer minutes in four of his last five games. He’s also averaging just 23Y! points per game across his last nine outings and has too short of a ceiling in this limited role. This guy also gets most of his value through rebounds, and those will be in shorter supply against the top-ranked offense in the NBA.